Air Quality Impacts of Oil and Gas Operations in the Northern Colorado Front Range

Monday, 15 December 2014: 9:15 AM
Detlev Helmig, Chelsea R Thompson, Jacques Hueber, Katie Rose Smith and Reed M Terrell, University of Colorado at Boulder, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Boulder, CO, United States
Exceedences of the US EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for surface ozone have been reported from monitoring sites in the Northern Colorado Front Range (NCFR) for more than fifteen years during summer. Comparison of ozone records from the NCFR clearly show that ozone primarily results from regional photochemical daytime production. Recent trend analyses do not show an improvement of surface ozone despite efforts by the State of Colorado to curb ozone precursor emissions. Our review of atmospheric volatile organic compound (VOC) measurements from historic and recent monitoring shows significant spatial increases of atmospheric VOC towards the oil and gas development area in Weld County, NW of the Denver-Boulder metropolitan region. Secondly, analyses of VOC trends and VOC signatures show an overall increase of oil and gas associated VOC relative to other VOC sources. These analyses suggest that oil and gas emissions are playing and increasing role in ozone production in the NCFR and that reductions of oil and gas emissions would be beneficial for lowering surface ozone and attainment of the ozone NAAQS.